No I didn't go out and play Holi in Varanasi this year. In keeping with our usual policy of keeping clean and calm, Yuki and I stayed in and did a big yoga session on the morning of Holi. However, around Holi there was lots of fun to be had in Varanasi.
A couple of days beforehand our friend Gumi (a bansuri player from Kyoto) organised a concert called "Namaste Mela" featuring foreign students of Indian classical music, in which I accompanied Tetsu Takana, a sitar student of Pt Shiv Nath Mishra. Along with one practice, it was the first time we'd met or played together, but hopefully not the last! Very enjoyable.
Hannah played very beautiful alap on Mohan veena
Gumi played Holi in the chai break
Shen and Tetsu playing together for the first time
On the afternoon of Holi it's traditional to put on new clothes and go visiting friends. I took this photo of Yuki and Nao on the way to visit their Guru-Ma.
Holi is on the full moon
An atmosphere of wildness lingers on for a few days after Holi, helped by traditional drumming groups like this (and mobile DJs).
A few days after Holi it was March 11, the first anniversary of the great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011. Many Japanese people in Varanasi gathered at Dasaswamedh Ghat to pray together and to sing a Japanese folk song, "Furusato" ("Homeland"). Yuki was asked to play the harmonium and lead the singing!